Jaundiced? Weight loss will cure that, no need to look for a reason.

Reader A writes:
This touches on fat health a bit but also queer health and mental health. This was all in one thirty-minute whammy of a visit.

I made an appointment for a pap smear because I have been going through a lot of tests and pokes and prods trying to figure out why I have been jaundiced for years, and where my near-constant abdominal pain is stemming from. Also, this is the first time I have had health insurance as an adult (I’m twenty-four) so I wanted to cover all of my bases.
I had never been to a gynecologist before, and as a rape survivor, I feel that I should have at least googled what to expect. After having done said googling post-visit, however, I know that no amount of background knowledge would have prepared me for this encounter.
The receptionist didn’t know what “PCOS” stood for (my GP had suggested screening for poly-cystic ovarian syndrome due to my irregular periods and weight gain) so I waited in the lobby while she asked the doctor what that would fall under in terms of “reason for visit”. I decided to ignore the gospel radio station and hope for the best. After pulling me into a back room, weighing me, and asking me the usual questions about medications and illnesses, the doctor turned to me and asked “so what is this business about PCOS?” I explained that my GP had suggested getting checked out just in case. With a laugh she informed me that doctors try to use PCOS as a catch-all for overweight women. She asked me about my other symptoms, and after I explained about the abdominal pain and jaundice, proceeded to tell me that every one of my symptoms would go away if I would just lose a little weight.
At this point, I am no longer taking anything this woman says seriously.
When she asks me what type of birth control method I am using, I inform her that I am in a relationship with a woman and that we do not use birth control. “Oh, Lord,” she responds. “Let’s just get you looked at.”
Remember when I said that I have never been to a gynecologist before? Keep that in mind when asking yourself why the hell I stayed through what happened next.
Wearing my paper shirt and blanket, hunched over the edge of the table, I had an idea of what was coming next. I explained that I have never had a pap smear before and that I was nervous about the procedure. She laughed and told me there was nothing to be nervous about. She inserted the metal thingy into my vagina thingy and I immediately froze because of the pain. I stopped responding to her nonsense questions about what I do for a living and whether or not I exercise. Instead of checking to see what was wrong, she just stopped asking them.
When it came time for her to use her fingers to complete the exam, I was feeling numb and dissociated. That ended abruptly when she inserted FOUR fingers into me, causing me to emit a low-grade shriek. After this she giggled, said “I guess we just need one, huh?” and proceeded with the exam with one finger. I could already tell that I was bleeding- this was confirmed for me when I dressed myself and cried after she had left the room.
As the final segment of the exam, the doctor handed me an ipad with twenty or so questions on it regarding my emotional state. After I answered, she looked them over and said: “If you want to have any kind of quality of life, you should really get on a medication. It’s obvious that you are bipolar.”
This has made me so much more cautious about selecting physicians. I know that it’s going to take some work to set foot into any gynecologist’s office again, but I also know that not all of them are like this.

Overcoming an eating disorder – diagnosed with high insulin levels – what to do?

A reader writes:

i’m a fat girl who just got diagnosed with high insulin levels. i’m sorta freaking out. i’ve spent the past 2 years working really hard at rebuilding my relationship with food after a bout of bulimia. i’ve been following “the fat nutritionist” & using a lot of her tips about normal eatting & now it’s all fucked. what do i do? are there any other fatties with this medical issue? how did you guys treat it & still be okay with your body? i feel like my dr looked at me & saw fat not a person. hhhhhelp!

Psychiatrist vebally attacks patient over weight gain caused by anti-depressant

Julia writes:

I’m 22 and I have multiple mental illnesses – complex PTSD, OCD, social anxiety disorder, depression and a sleep disorder – most of which are the result of surviving rape and sexual abuse. I’ve had disordered eating for most of my life, which is currently manifesting as compulsive overeating disorder.

I had lap-band surgery in 2007 and lost a lot of weight, but my doctors kept telling me I needed to lose more. My psychiatrist told me that she thought my social phobia would go away if I achieved a ‘nice figure’. Since my metabolism has been affected by the various medications I’m on, as well as years of yo-yo dieting, it is exceedingly difficult for me to get to a BMI below 28.

My psychiatrist decided to adjust my medication 8 months ago, which caused me to start regaining weight. Since the new antidepressants didn’t work, bingeing was the only way for me to regulate my emotions in order to stay alive. I am now back on the original antidepressant, but it hasn’t been as effective since then.

I saw her a few days ago. Within the first 10 minutes she started attacking me about my weight. It started with the usual spiel about the supposed link between high weight and various diseases, but she seemed angry which was out of character for her. I calmly told her that my weight gain was mostly due to a higher dose of anti-psychotics (which I take to get to sleep). I admitted that I had been eating more, but said that if I didn’t binge I would probably kill myself. She responded by saying, “You are killing yourself” (meaning I would give myself diabetes or hypertension). I told her that I didn’t wish to discuss it any further. When she persisted, in an increasingly censorious tone, I got up to leave and told I wasn’t there to be lectured about being fat. She told me that I was being irrational and making ridiculous accusations. I have low self-esteem and am very sensitive to criticism, so this made me feel as though I’d been struck.

At this point I was sobbing and feeling like I was watching myself from outside my body. I now realise that I was having a panic attack. I thought the gate was locked and I was waiting for her to unlock it (she works from her home and has a locked gate in front of the door for security). Feeling trapped is especially triggering for me because I was raped in a locked house when I was 13. I was struggling to breathe, and being ordered to “stop hyperventilating” wasn’t helping matters. I told her, between sobs, that my problem was my trauma and not the fact that I’m fat. I also kept saying that I wanted to leave. When she asked me why I didn’t just leave, I told her that I couldn’t get out. This seemed to enrage her, and she said, “You’ve been coming here for 6 years and you know you can always open the door, you’re being ridiculous”. I didn’t know this because she is always the one to open the door and the gate and I hadn’t thought to check whether the key was in the lock (which it was).

I left feeling like my stomach had been ripped open. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so betrayed in my life. I’ve told her every detail of every trauma I have, and I trusted her completely. It’s very hard for me to trust anyone, and I’m so angry with her for making it even harder. I don’t know how she can justify what she said when she knows that I’ve been struggling with suicidal thoughts and that I’m not able to handle any more stress at the moment. I’m scared that I’ll have to either stop taking my medication when my prescription runs out or go through the hell of trying to find another psychiatrist, who most likely will turn out to be just as ignorant and judgmental as she did.

Because criticism does wonders for depression

Megan writes…

I was home for college a few years ago and went to an internist who I had never met before for treatment of UTI [urinary tract infection]. Having dealt with eating and body issues for several years, the thought of getting on the scale at an unfamiliar doctor’s office terrified me, but the pain of the UTI gave me little choice.

The doctor there, upon noting that I was on an anti-depressant, callously asked me, “Well, what are you depressed about?” I could only assume he had skipped the mental health course in med school or didn’t believe in such feel-good terms as “chemical imbalance.” Not having the convenient answer he was looking for, I quickly explained that I had been dealing with depression and anxiety since I was 13 years old.

He then prescribed me an antibiotic without performing any tests, and apparently decided it was a good time to have a really deep connection with me. He looked at my weight, which was all of 140 lbs and asked if I exercised. I didn’t have the energy at this point to get into the 6-mile daily runs, the obsessive tracking of calories burned, the self-hatred when I skipped a workout. I knew what was coming, I froze, and mumbled a quiet “yes.”

And then he said the line that still haunts me to this day: “Because you are pretty husky. I mean, you have a great figure, but you could lose some weight.

Ashamed and confused (was “great figure” a medical term?”), I made my way as quickly as possible out of his office, dissolved into tears, and spent weeks trying to not base my self-worth on one man’s 2-second assessment of my body.

I still wonder what so-called health professional, upon seeing a teenage girl with admitted problems with depression, feels he is doing her a service by throwing around terms like “husky,” making judgments about her body, and being completely oblivious to the the body issues that nearly every woman in this country struggles with on a daily basis. From what I’m seeing on your site, its all too common an occurrence.

“Of course you’re a binge eater — you’re fat!”

Michelle writes…

Once, I had a therapist for depression who assumed that I had binge-eating disorder because I am fat. It took me over a year to realize this. From the beginning of therapy, I made it clear that I was not there to talk about my weight, and it was off-limits as a topic. So, for over a year, I paid her lots of money and we never talked about my weight.

Then, while I was still in therapy for depression, I began to see a dietitian who specialized in Health At Every Size, and treated people with eating disorders. My eating was all chaotic and out-of-whack years after a bout with food restriction (aka “dieting”), and I was unhappy about it. She assessed me and told me that I did not currently have an eating disorder, binge or otherwise, though she agreed that my dieting episode, years
previously, had been on “the slippery slope” of anorexia nervosa.

“It’s only been in the last year I’ve found a doctor that looks at me as a person”

Branwyn writes…

I have so many stories, years and years of being treated as just “fat” instead of a person with real, physical problems.

My first time with the prejudice doctors have against overweight people was when I was 16.  I’d had amenorrhea for a year at that point.  My grandmother (who I was living with) took me to the doctor, who, after doing a pregnancy test and a cursory pelvic exam, told my grandmother that I was just fat, and that if I lost weight, I’d get my menses back.  Oh, I weighed 165lbs on a 5’2″ body.  I was in a size 16, which yes, is overweight, but not what is usually considered normal to interfere with menses.

That started my hate of doctors and my utter loathing of my body.


Once again, an eating disorder is no excuse for not dieting

Nemohee writes…

After years of taunting and teasing by the other kids at school (who always seemed to assume that being fat also made you stupid, in addition to being ugly), I developed an eating disorder. It started out innocently at first: cutting down to 1500 calories a day, keeping a food journal, increasing my exercise, but soon it got out of hand. I was consuming NO MORE than 500 calories a day, and my poor dog nearly collapsed from the long, arduous walks I was taking him on (after which I would put him back in the yard, and proceed to exercise MORE). I was fairly proficient at hiding my low calorie intact from my parents, so they thought I was eating a healthy diet, though somewhat reduced in nature.

Naturally, I started losing weight. I lost three pounds in my first week. The next week it was four. My doctors, who had always chided me for being overweight (even going so far as to insinuate that my mother, who is heavy due to thyroid problems, was overfeeding me), were thrilled.

“Keep it up!” one responded joyously as I stepped off the scale. Never once did they stop to tell me that losing more than a pound and a half in a week was dangerous.

Three months later, I had lost enough to take me from a size 16 to a size 8. (more…)

You have an eating disorder? You still need to lose weight

Rachel writes…

It’s difficult to find a professional competent in treating eating disorders. It’s even more difficult if the eating disordered person is also fat.

In the early stages of my own eating disorder, I had the benefit of a good friend who urged me towards treatment. But, as I would come to find out, receiving help for an eating disorder is easier said than done… (more…)